“You’re a good mom.”
I hear those words very often, and nearly everywhere I go–Costco, Target, church, the grocery store, the doctor’s office…you get the idea. And I suppose the strangers’ words come out naturally when they see a gal with a 16-month-old on one hip, a 21-month-old on the other, a three-year-old tagging alongside.
But while I hear the words, they aren’t being said to me.
The words are being said to my 16-year-old daughter, Kaitlin.
Kaitlin, my oldest child who–along with younger siblings Connor and Kylie–has spent six years sharing her home and life with foster siblings. She was 10 when our journey as a foster family began….and 13 when someone first called her ‘mom’ as she snuggled tiny baby Charlie–who is now officially and forever her brother–at church.
Church, where her dad is one of the pastors.
Fostering is not a parent journey…it’s a family journey. One that has affected my kids in ways I did not expect. Could I have possibly dreamed my 13-year-old daughter would be assumed to be a mother? Or that by the time Kaitlin was 15, she would be the one everyone thinks is a mom? Never. Many things crossed my mind when we began this journey, but pushing my young teen into the “mom spotlight” was never on my radar and definitely not my intention.
I know that many families have children that fall within a wide age range, and I’m sure the older children are often considered to be a parent rather than the sibling. So even though we didn’t birth all of our kids, we have now created an interesting lineup within our home as we have kids ages 15, 14, 12, 3, 21 months and 16 months. The lineup causes many double-takes, questions, and assumptions that affect each of us in various ways. And for Kaitlin, it means many people will assume one of the little girls is her own child.
Last night, I asked Kaitlin, “What do you think when when people tell you you’re a good mom?” And she told me she really doesn’t think much about it because it’s “kinda weird.” Then, with a wink and a smile, she said, “But I really am a good mom.”
She is indeed.
LeAnne is a mother of six children ranging in age from sixteen to two. After giving birth to their third child, LeAnne and her husband decided if they added more children to their family, it would be through adoption. Ultimately, God led them to become foster parents. They have had several foster placements, and in the past three years have completed adoptions out of foster care for their three youngest children. Visit LeAnne’s personal blog to read more about her passion for foster care.